What are the different rating symbols and what do they mean?
There are seven ratings provided by the ESRB; Early Childhood, Everyone, Everyone 10+, Teen, Mature and Rating Pending. Each rating is represented with their own symbol.
Early Childhood: Basically equivalent to a G-rated movie, these games would probably have no unsavory content and parents should feel confident in these titles for young children.
Everyone: Recommended for ages 6 and up, since this can be seen as such a broad category there will be games with this rating that may have some mild violence or mild content. Essentially equivalent to a PG-rated movie.
Everyone 10+: This is specifically defined as content suitable for ages 10 and older. These games may contain more mild violence and language and/or minimal suggestive themes. The content descriptors on the back will tell you exactly what to expect, and it may be a good idea to check them out since this is also such a broad category.
Teen: Recommended for ages 13 and older, these titles may contain violence and blood, suggestive themes, crude humor, and infrequent strong language, much more so than the previous ratings. These games must be chosen on what the parent thinks is suitable for their child. Equivalent to a PG-13 movie rating.
Mature: Probably contains intense violence, gore, sexual content and strong language. Recommended for ages 17 and older. These would not be recommended at all for younger children since the game may be scary or vulgar.
Adults Only: Features content only suitable for people over the age of 18. To summarize, we recommend keeping your kids away from these games!
Rating Pending: These are games that have been submitted to the ESRB but have yet to receive their final rating.
What are content descriptors?
The ESRB provides 30 different content descriptors to help identify what exactly is featured in each game. These range from warnings of profane lyrics to simulated gambling as well as drug and alcohol references and usage. These descriptors are located on the back of the box and are with the rating symbol located there.
Alcohol Reference - Reference to and/or images of alcoholic beverages
Animated Blood - Discolored and/or unrealistic depictions of blood
Blood - Depictions of blood
Blood and Gore - Depictions of blood or the mutilation of body parts
Cartoon Violence - Violent actions involving cartoon-like situations and characters. May include violence where a character is unharmed after the action has been inflicted
Comic Mischief - Depictions or dialogue involving slapstick or suggestive humor
Crude Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including "bathroom" humor
Drug Reference - Reference to and/or images of illegal drugs
Fantasy Violence - Violent actions of a fantasy nature, involving human or non-human characters in situations easily distinguishable from real life
Intense Violence - Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death
Language - Mild to moderate use of profanity
Lyrics - Mild references to profanity, sexuality, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
Mature Humor - Depictions or dialogue involving "adult" humor, including sexual references
Nudity - Graphic or prolonged depictions of nudity
Partial Nudity - Brief and/or mild depictions of nudity
Real Gambling - Player can gamble, including betting or wagering real cash or currency
Sexual Content - Non-explicit depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including partial nudity
Sexual Themes - References to sex or sexuality
Sexual Violence - Depictions of rape or other violent sexual acts
Simulated Gambling - Player can gamble without betting or wagering real cash or currency
Strong Language - Explicit and/or frequent use of profanity
Strong Lyrics - Explicit and/or frequent references to profanity, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use in music
Strong Sexual Content - Explicit and/or frequent depictions of sexual behavior, possibly including nudity
Suggestive Themes - Mild provocative references or materials
Tobacco Reference - Reference to and/or images of tobacco products
Use of Drugs - The consumption or use of illegal drugs
Use of Alcohol - The consumption of alcoholic beverages
Use of Tobacco - The consumption of tobacco products
Violence - Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
Violent References - References to violent acts